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Camel Tattoo?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

As the afternoon reaches its mid point I call the fort quits and head off to the intriguingly named Camel Tattoo Presentation.  Last night, when the chef at my hotel described it as camel dancing, my curiosity was peaked.  He jokingly said that they would be jumping around from all of the pain.  I imagined a sort of branding, but still completely missed his joke and play on words until I saw the event in person.   [read on]

Exploring the Fort City

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008


For my second morning in Jaisalmer, I give the dusty festival a rest and take the time to investigate the huge fort dominating the city. On top of a minor hill in the center of the town, golden sand-stone walls reach a modest height. A cluttered collection of beautiful Haveli buildings peak out over their edges, tempting with promises of a grand world of history waiting within.    [read on]

Runaway Facial Hair

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

With an early rise and start I leave my hotel and walk past the entrance gate to the fort. It beckons and tries to lure me inside, but I press onwards through the golden city. Ubiquitous yellow-gold sandstone bricks compose most of the intricately carved buildings. The typical medieval streets are complete with errant cows, erratic traffic and everything else Indian. But I find little time on this walk to soak up the atmosphere. The excessive tourist hassle does little to detract from the charm of this fascinating place, but I maintain my brisk pace through the army of touts and finally arrive at the Jaisalmer Desert Festival. [read on]

A Moustache Contest in Jaisalmer?

Monday, February 18th, 2008

A Moustache Contest?

As the first words of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival fell upon my ears, the interest had already been thoroughly implanted. Along with a series of other bizarre events and a good share of camels, this event is too atypical to pass up! With the information that the gathering begins tomorrow, I don’t hesitate to pack my bags and board an overcrowded bus leaving in the early evening. [read on]

Welcome to India Part VI: Celebration

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

I’ve been in Hampi for five days already. Alas, only one day was allowed for exploring on motorcycle. The rest have been consumed with work on the article in an internet café. While it is earning me a few weeks of travel money, it is also eating away at my chance to explore Hampi. So on this fifth day, it’s time to crawl away from the glow of a computer screen and let natural light grace my eyes again. I mount the motorcycle and speed out of town.

see all of my photos from the Krishna Temple

I make a quick stop at the Krishna Temple, which I missed on my previous expedition, but quickly leave when I find nothing unique or impressive compared to yesterday’s wonders. Another beautiful ride along the same road from a few days ago brings me past the Vitthala temple. I arrive at the Tungabhadra River and find that the bridge has been left half-constructed and there is at least a ten-meter gap over the water below, so I ride down a rough path and ferry across in a shaky circular coracle boat. On the other side I am greeted with a more lush landscape than that around the Bazaar and ruins of the Royal Center. Here the omnipresent massive boulders are surrounded with a healthy compliment of bright green rice paddies and looming palm trees.

After a mere five minutes on the other side of the river I hear the sound of approaching drums. Rounding a corner I spot the source: a lively festival parade accompanied by the cacophony of five different drum-lines banging away different rhythms at different tempos. An assortment of characters colorfully dressed as the divine legends of Hindu lore escort gypsy women, sadhus and Lakshmi the elephant through the rice fields aroundthe Durga Temple. I pause my journey for a short while to revel in the merriments of the slow progression, but after a while my eardrums begin to bleed from the excessive noise and I continue down the road.

see all of my photos from the Mucharen Festival

Eventually, I pull into the parking lot of my destination and through the scorching midday heat, climb the five hundred of steps up Anjanadri Hill to the Hanuman Temple. The famous monkeys, probably trying to escape the blistering sunlight, make them self sparse and the building is nothing worth mention, but the vista found up top is spectacular! This landscape I’ve grown accustomed to riding trough takes on an even more extraordinary form from this height. Aside from the joy of beauty, the climb lends some inspiration to explore a few uncharted paths only visible from this bird’s eye view. I waste no time and descend to the motorcycle and back into gear.

see all of misc photos from the other side of the river

A short trip along the paved road brings me to a small village where I turn onto its dirt roads and forge deeper off the beaten track. Eventually the trail thins out to nothing and I pave my own path across an unkempt field. This brief excursion off-road brings me to an unexpected oasis in the countryside of Karnataka; tucked behind the fields of rice and palm tree walls is an ideal cottage hidden from the world. The minimalist structure reeks of chic elegance. The multi-hued flowers spilling onto its broad wood porch frame a perfect view of the Hampi landscape. Across the well-tended lawn and a cerulean-tinted river are gracefully stacked boulders and the ruins of the Vitthala Temple. A stylish stone path leads off through groves of varied flowers and across a trickling stream. Butterflies and bumblebees are the only populace of this secluded and currently abandoned haven of tranquility. The doors and windows are all locked tightly, but that doesn’t stop me from lingering a while on the porch and appreciating this hidden grove of serenity.

see all of my photos from the Secluded Cottage

But alas, the bike is due back today and the peace must be broken. I climb back on the motorcycle and set off to further explore this side of the river. The traffic here is sparse, the pavement is intact and the scenery spares no beauty from its repertoire. The experience is fantastic, and I forgo any other tourist spots to simply ride for the next couple hours. I eventually run short on time and make one last stop in the village of Anegundi before unenthusiastically returning to the other shore.

see all of my photos from Anegundi

I think I’ve run out of praise for motorcycling. To avoid being redundant, I will merely let the multitude of unique experiences speak for themselves. Meanwhile the desire to purchase my own bike and avoid limitations of constant rentals is tugging stronger with each trip.

See all of my photos from the Tungabhadra River


Kyoto Part II: Geisha and Matsuri

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007


Already feeling very satisfied with the decision to visit Kyoto, I jumped on a subway heading towards Gion and Hanami-koji, the heart of Japan’s Geisha activity.  Although my hopes weren’t high, the neighborhood where you might spot them is also famous its elegant streets and classical architecture.  It definitely lived up to its reputation.    [read on]


Thursday, June 14th, 2007

I awoke just in time to catch the opening ceremony of the Otaue-Shinji (rice planting ceremony) at Sumiyoshi-Daichi.  This annual Shinto ceremony was recommended to me yesterday when I went to pick up a subway map at the info desk.  Even after being here for two months, it was still the first traditional-culture event that I’ve had the opportunity to witness.    [read on]

Ueno-Koen and the Omikoshi at Ameyokocho

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

One night in an internet café is tolerable.  Not so comfortable, but sleep is possible.  You can get computer work done and then easily pass out in your oversized recliner when you are ready.  Very helpful for blogging, uploading photos, and staying in touch with out a ketai (cell phone).  It is a worthwhile experience, and definitely a must for a budget traveler in Tokyo.  However, two nights in a row is too much.  In the few times I’ve stay in one before I never realized the quality of sleep wasn’t as good.  Compound two nights in a row and you simply don’t get enough rest.  None of my friends could put me up for another couple days, so I decided to seek out a cheap bed.  I found a ryokan in Minowa.  Hotel New Koyo is only ¥2500 per night for a private room and located near Ueno and Asakusa, two areas that were on my itinerary before coming to Tokyo.    [read on]